Monday, January 17, 2011

When you have to outweigh your critique partners

It's no secret that not only do I have critique partners, but one of my best friends is a technical editor.  Both my critique partners and my editor friend have read my manuscript and given me notes on how to improve on it.

But here's another little secret--sometimes I don't listen to their suggestions

*runs before Kelsey Ketch beats her with a pirate sword*

No, but seriously you all must think I'm crazy so I should explain myself...and since I like lists way too much I'm going to explain it in list format.

1.)  Not only do I use critique partners and editors, but I also did research with experts for this project.  I have no idea how to fly a plan or how one would fly it during combat.  So I actually found an airplane mechanic and pilot and asked him exactly what I would need to do to fly a fighter plane and shoot weapons.  (If this book is ever published, you'll see that it's really accurate.)

2.)  I guess it's time to come clean and admit that even though I'm afraid of aliens, I'm also kind of a science fiction geek.  I've watched way too many science fiction television shows and read way too many comic books and really want to honor all of the world building that this genre has created.

3.)  Sometimes I take their suggestions and then flow them in a completely different direction.  When you're critiquing someone else's manuscript sometimes you make small suggestions or ask questions, not expecting your partner to run with them and change whole chapters.  Sometimes your critique partner will do just that and then you read the second draft and think...the heck?

4.)  In the end, it is my story.  They may make suggestions that are great (Um, yeah let me tell you these girls like their weapons), but in the end it's the story that I'm trying to get across and I have to be true to that.

So...yes this is short and not all that awe inspiring, but I've really been rocking and rolling on revisions, so I may even give you a little sneak peak of HOW TO DATE AN ALIEN next week...maybe...MAYBE if you're lucky.  Or I'll just make something up and then what would you do about it?

Do you go against your critique partner's suggestions?  Do you look for experts for your WIP?


  1. A big thumbs up on #4.

    YOU know where you are going with a tale. It is your vision that counts.

    I like #3 also. I loved a section in my MS but after 3 different betas said it was moose dung, I cut it and grudgingly agreed it was better.

    But sometimes I sneak the passage out to cuddle a bit. :)

  2. I listen to critiques that give suggestions about tone and pacing. Are the emotions coming off right? Does the dialogue feel natural? Is there a plot hole? Those kind of things. I always know what I want the essence of my story to be and don't make any changes that would affect that but I do take into account readers' suggestions. I'm always looking for ways to improve my stories.

  3. Yes! Sometimes you HAVE to trust your gut, even if everyone else hates it.

  4. I have to be better about sticking up for my work. Sometimes my crit partners can be brutal, and I have to know when to say "yes, you're right" and "No, that's not good for me or my story."
    Great post!

  5. I always quote Neil Gaiman on this, heh. He says, "Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong."

    Translation: if readers are getting stuck on something or keep coming back to the same passage and saying it doesn't work, they're usually right. If they tell you how THEY would fix it, they're usually wrong, because they're not you and it's not their story. But what they pointed out is still worth exploring!

  6. LOL, I was going to quote Neil Gaiman on this too. Love that man!

  7. I like Steph's Neil Gaiman quote too.

    I've been given great and lousy advice. Right now I'm in a quandary. I made changes to my manuscript based on my critique group's advice, but now I fear I've slowed the story down. I may have to go back, pull out the extra stuff, and send more queries. See what happens.

    Gotta go with your gut, right?

  8. LOL. Girl, you know I would never beat you up with a pirate sword! It's all good.
    I truely believe in number 4. I feel that suggestions are helpful, but in the end only you know what feels right for your manuscript.

  9. Great post! I think crit partners are great for illuminating problem areas, but sometimes I have to remind myself that their tastes in storytelling aren't always the same as mine.

    As far as consulting experts, I'm very lucky because my husband builds and launches rockets for a living, so he can answer most of my questions about physics in space :)

  10. Sometimes my crit partner will suggest cutting a line because it's superfluous, but I know it's key to something later and choose to leave it in. Bit she rarely gives me advice that I can't follow.

  11. I love my CPs, and I seriously consider all their suggestions--not that I implement them all! I did have a beta reader who wanted to cut everything that was my "voice" out of my memoir. What she left on the page made no sense. At all. It was crazy. Crazy, I say.


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